An overview of IGF1
When looking to increase your muscle mass, there are several options available to you. These range from your regular protein supplements to anabolic hormones. Obviously, the one you go for is going to be determined by your needs.
If your goal is to achieve a level of muscle mass that is only second to The Hulk’s, then you have no doubt heard about IGF1 and its potential to make such goals a reality.
Nonetheless, you need all the info you can get about IGF1 before you decide to purchase and use it. This article will let you in on everything you need to know about IGF1.
What is IGF1?
Also known as Somatomedin C, IGF1 has become one of the most coveted inclusions in today’s bodybuilders’ stacks. This is due to its potent anabolic properties that allow people to attach massive amounts of muscle mass onto their frames. The first documented use of IGF1, it is believed, was in the early 90s when six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates showed up looking like an absolute monster. He dominated everyone in sight through sheer size, thus putting a stop to the Golden Era of Bodybuilding. It suffices, therefore, to say that IGF1 changed bodybuilding forever.
To the uninformed, IGF1 definitely sounds like an anabolic steroid. However, it is not. IGF1, rather, is a protein hormone (peptide) that has a similar structure to insulin (the body hormone). And just like insulin, IGF1 is naturally produced by the body, primarily the liver.
The production of IGF1, however, is dependent on the Human Growth Hormone (HGH), as HGH is what stimulates the liver to manufacture and secrete IGF1. As such, HGH is a prohormone to IGF1. Therefore, every time you hear about the anabolic effects of HGH, what people actually mean is the effects of IGF1.
Even though IGF1 possesses a very similar structure to insulin – thus the name Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 –there are still some fundamental differences in their structures that cause them to function differently.
Insulin is tasked with the transportation of nutrients throughout the body. IGF1 also does the same job, only that it specifically transports essential nutrients such as glucose and amino acids into your muscle cells. There, the cells utilize the nutrients to create new muscle tissue. IGF1 also has anabolic effects on your bone, connective, and intestinal tissues, as well. The main difference between the two compounds, therefore, is that insulin transports nutrients to all parts of the body while IGF1 only shuttles nutrients to your muscle cells.
Moreover, IGF1 has a variety of roles, which keep changing depending on the phase of development that you are in. For instance, IGF1 is responsible for releasing the growth factors that help a child transition into teenage, then adulthood.
It, therefore, finds medical uses, such as treating growth failure. The peptide has also been found to be beneficial in the treatment of cancer, stroke, neuropathy, and aging-related conditions.
As we get more insight into the compound, scientists have been able to develop a couple of IGF1 variants, to be used in the treatment of different disorders. These include IGF1, IGF1 LR3, and IGF1 DES. Of course, they possess different properties. For people new to the compound, these variants can be a bit confusing but don’t worry. We’ll discuss them later in this article.
How Does IGF1 Work?
IGF1 is a protein hormone – specifically polypeptide- that consists of a chain of 70 amino acids. Comparatively, insulin only has 51 amino acids in its chain. As mentioned earlier, IGF-1 works to transport nutrients to your muscle cells, hence promoting muscle growth. However, this is not the only way in which this hormone works to enhance your muscle mass. IGF1 also promotes muscle cell hyperplasia. This means that it multiplies the number of cells in your muscle tissues. Other muscle-building supplements typically achieve their objective by promoting muscle cell hypertrophy – meaning they work to promote the growth of your existing muscle cells without multiplying them. Using IGF1, therefore, increases the rate of muscle building exponentially as it encourages not only muscle cell hyperplasia, but also muscle cell hypertrophy as well.
What are the Various IGF1 Variants?
So far, scientists have been able to harness two primary IGF1 variants: IGF1 LR3 and IGF DES. Here’s what you need to know about them:
- IGF1 LR3
When you hear about IGF1 in the bodybuilding and sports circles, IGF1 LR3 is typically what people are referring to. It is, therefore, the most popular and common type of IGF1.
IGF1 LR3 does contain the 70-amino acid chain that the original peptide has, however, it also has 13 additional amino acids at its N-terminus, thus totaling to 83 amino acids. Another way in which LR3 is different from the original peptide is in the positioning of some of its amino acids. In LR3, instead of glutamic acid occupying the third position in the chain, arginine occupies that position instead.
The effect of these modifications is that, in addition to being able to achieve the original peptide’s objectives, LR3 gains the advantage of having an extended half-life (time in which the compound stays active within the body). IGF1 has a half-life of between 12 and 15 hours, while IGF1 LR3 has a half-life of between 20 and 30 hours. Moreover, LR3 is three times more potent than plain IGF1.
All these factors are what make IGF1 LR3 the ideal bodybuilding peptide.
- IGF1 DES
This IGF1 variant, on the other hand, is famed for its fast-acting properties. Nonetheless, it is still less preferred to LR3. IGF1 DES differs from the original peptide in that it has 3 less amino acids at its N-terminus. As such, DES has a total of 67 amino acids in its chain as compared to the original peptide’s 67.
The implication of this modification is that IGF1 DES has a reduced binding affinity, thus making it fast-acting. Additionally, this modification makes it up to ten times more potent than the original IGF1 and up to five times IGF1 LR3.
However, all these benefits come at a cost and a great one at that. IGF1 DES has a very short half-life of between 20 and 30 minutes. As such, its effects are short-lived, thus making it less than ideal for someone seeking to build and maintain large amounts of muscle mass.
What are the Side Effects of Using IGF1?
Research shows that most people can easily tolerate supplemental IGF-1 within their systems, provided they adhere to the recommended dosages. Failure to do this can result in short-term as well as long-term side effects.
In the short-term, using IGF1 puts you at risk of low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). If you can remember, one of the primary nutrients that the compound takes to your muscle cells is glucose. As such, having elevated levels of the hormone in your body means more and more glucose will be taken to your muscle cells, thus leaving your blood with low glucose (sugar) levels.
At optimal doses, this shouldn’t be a problem, but you can see how quickly the tide can change if you take a high dose of the substance. And even at optimal dosages, a diabetic or diabetes-prone individual is still at risk of hypoglycemia. This is why it is essential to monitor your blood sugar levels religiously when you start using IGF1.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer or an active tumor, you might also want to avoid IGF1. This is because IGF1 is a growth factor and, therefore, can promote cancer or tumor growth in such individuals. However, it does not cause tumors or cancers, but it could exacerbate those conditions.
In the long-term, consistently using IGF1 in high doses puts you at risk of developing acromegaly in addition to excess growth of your internal organs. Acromegaly is a condition that manifests itself in excessive growth of bone tissue, especially those in the hands, feet, and jaw.
This typically happens after extended periods of uninterrupted use and in high dosages. An excellent example of this effect is the ‘bodybuilder gut.’ If you have been paying attention to the bodybuilding scene, the most glaring flaw that modern bodybuilders have is the ‘bubble gut.’ The individual looks like an action figure when they are flexing, but looks like they have a beer belly when they are relaxed. This is as a result of oversized internal organs. Unfortunately, this is a risk that pro-bodybuilders have to take as the judges keep emphasizing on mass over aesthetics.
The bottom line, however, is that you will only experience these side effects if you consistently use above-average doses of IGF1.
Amassing a good amount of muscle mass is no walk in the park. While there’s no substitute for hard work, one wouldn’t mind seeing the results of their efforts much sooner. IGF1 allows you to build massive amounts of muscle within short periods through muscle cell hyperplasia and hypertrophy.
However, be sure to first check with your doctor to ensure that you do not have any condition that might be exacerbated by the use of this hormone. Additionally, ensure to follow the recommended dosage levels to avoid the potential side effects that come with high doses.
Lastly, make sure that you first research a vendor before buying from them, to avoid buying counterfeit products.